‘There’s no stupider reason to go to war than fear that people will think you are weak’ — Chris Hayes

Israel/Palestine
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Thank god, Chris Hayes is serving as a node for opposition to the Syrian strike. On last night’s show he did the Stephen Colbert thing, but more subtly, playing earnest devil’s advocate for the strike, while continually graveling at the plans.

“I still haven’t heard anything convincing. Saddam Hussein used these weapons twice.”

Saying that Republicans were the base of opposition to the strike, Hayes interviewed strike opponents Jim Risch, Republican Senator from Idaho, and Bassam Haddad of George Mason University.

Hayes asked Risch, Did anything you heard at the Kerry hearing change your mind today?

Risch: Not really… [A president seeking my support for war] would have to have better answers than what this administration has, as far as making justifications and more importantly to me where are we going with this.  What does success look like. What does day two and three and four look like? How are you going to deal with the fallout, assuming Russia reacts adversely…?

Everybody knows that this is not the first time that Assad has used gas against his own people… The other thing that’s overlooked here is that he’s already killed 100,000 people with conventional weapons. That is bad. I don’t want to minimize what this man has done.. On the other hand, I do not buy on to the theory that this is a national security matter for the United States….

Professor Haddad spoke of the confused support for the strike, including the goal of supporting the “settler colonial state of Israel”– have you ever heard those words on cable TV before? — and said a strike will foreclose a political solution, which would involve Russia and the US forcing all parties to the conflict to come together. Haddad:

“A limited strike first of all will not be effective, second of all will make the conflict more volatile and third of all will foreclose any possibility of a political solution down the road. It’s basically eliminating that possibility for the sake of very limited gains that can spin out of control and bring the entire region into this conflict.”

In a subsequent debate on air, Hayes covered himself with MSNBC by having two hawks and one dove, and again, Hayes kept mouthing arguments for a strike, so as to remove the rationale for it.

The dove was Ben Domenech of Heartland Institute, who responded to former national security spokesperson Tom Vietor:

The word you use is punish. This is why it fails the just war test. You have to have just cause, just authority and just result…You don’t have the result being protection for the people.

Hayes finished the debate by making a “definitive statement” as the host:

There is no stupider, more bankrupt reason to go to war than the fear that people will think you’re weak or call you a wimp.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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  1. MRW
    September 4, 2013, 2:07 pm

    This is starting to sound like West Side Story.

    • DICKERSON3870
      September 4, 2013, 4:14 pm

      OR “EAST SIDE STORY”:
      . . . Salōmē
      I just met a girl named Salōmē
      And suddenly that name
      Will never be the same
      To me . . .

      • LanceThruster
        September 4, 2013, 5:07 pm

        RIFF
        When you’re a Jet,
        You’re a Jet all the way
        From your first cigarette
        To your last dyin’ day.
        When you’re a Jet,
        Let them do what they can,
        You got brothers around,
        You’re a family man!
        You’re never alone,
        You’re never disconnected!
        You’re home with your own–
        When company’s expected,
        You’re well protected!
        Then you are set
        With a capital J,
        Which you’ll never forget
        Till they cart you away.
        When you’re a Jet,
        You stay
        A Jet!

        SNOWBOY
        When you’re a Jet,
        You’re the top cat in town,
        You’re the gold-medal kid
        With the heavyweight crown!

        ICE
        When you’re a Jet,
        You’re the swingin’est thing.
        Little boy, you’re a man;
        Little man, you’re a king!

        ALL
        The Jets are in gear,
        Our cylinders are clickin’!
        The Sharks’ll steer clear
        ‘Cause every Puerto Rican’s
        A lousy chicken!

        ALL
        Here come the Jets
        Like a bat out of hell–
        Someone gets in our way
        Someone don’t feel so well!
        Here come the Jets:
        Little world, step aside!
        Better go underground,
        Better run, better hide!

        We’re drawin’ the line,
        So keep your noses hidden!
        We’re hangin’ a sign
        Says “Visitors forbidden”–
        And we ain’t kiddin!
        Here come the Jets,
        Yeah! And we’re gonna beat
        Every last buggin’ gang
        On the whole buggin’ street!

        One the whole!
        Buggin’–!
        Ever –!
        Lovin’–!
        Street!!

  2. marc b.
    September 4, 2013, 2:13 pm

    Everybody knows that this is not the first time that Assad has used gas against his own people… The other thing that’s overlooked here is that he’s already killed 100,000 people with conventional weapons. That is bad. I don’t want to minimize what this man has done.. On the other hand, I do not buy on to the theory that this is a national security matter for the United States….

    99 out of 100 times you listen to a congressperson, you gotta come away discouraged, even if s/he ostensibly supports your position. Assad “has used gas” multiple times? Assad has “killed 100,000 people with conventional weapons”? what about the evidence of the use of chemical weapons by rebel forces? and reports of the deaths of tens of thousands of alawites and other assad supporters? (videos of cannibalism and summary execution of teenagers by the rebels notwithstanding.) the ignorance and bias is so deeply ingrained you know it would only take one phone call to change this moron’s tune.

    • Donald
      September 4, 2013, 4:33 pm

      You beat me to it. I’m losing count of the number of times I’ve heard people say or write that “Assad killed 100,000 of his own people with conventional weapons.” And yes, frequently it comes from people opposed to a US strike.

      BTW, does anyone remember Kerry saying this? I thought I did, but am not sure, and when I tried to google for it didn’t have much luck.

      Anyway, first, we don’t really know the full death toll, just as we never knew the Iraq death toll, so it might theoretically be possible that the death toll is much higher than the 100,000 figure commonly cited and that Assad’s forces killed a large fraction. But clearly these people are using the 100,000 figure that everyone uses and assuming that practically everyone on the list was killed by the Assad forces. But even the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights claimed that over 40,000 of those dead were either Syrian military or militia. (The NYT quoted them as saying some in the latter category were “informers”, which is technical talk for an unarmed civilian accused of support for the other side in a civil war.) They said that 36,000 were civilians and gave no breakdown in the stories and summaries I’ve seen of who killed whom.

      • marc b.
        September 4, 2013, 5:11 pm

        Donald, I think that the SOHR used the 40,000 for ‘alawite’ deaths, however they came up with that analysis. but, yes, exactly my point. Turkey/SA/Israel/US supplied ‘rebels’, including many foreigner merc types (who are curiously left out of some of the body counts) haven’t killed anyone? and I thought the Turkish press had reported that Turkish forces had intercepted chemical weapons destined for the rebels long before this whole atrocity occurred. what’s the smugglers’ rule of thumb? for every kilo seized, ten get through.

      • Rusty Pipes
        September 4, 2013, 9:22 pm

        The MSM’s description of “Syria’s Civil War in which over 100,000 Syrians have been killed” serves to mask not only that the figure of deaths is unreliable (based largely on reports and categories of the SOHR), but also the reality that thousands of those killed in Syria have not been Syrians. Aside from the number of international journalists who have been kidnapped and/or killed, the death toll includes a large number of foreign jihadists and mercenaries who have been part of this conflict from its early days.

      • marc b.
        September 5, 2013, 3:44 pm

        the death toll includes a large number of foreign jihadists and mercenaries who have been part of this conflict from its early days.

        and maybe that’s part of the plan, then. undermine Assad, get a bunch of now redundant, loose cannon, dimwitted Jihadis killed in a Syrian ‘holy war’, then install some Salam Fayyad-type 2%-er as president after Assad limps into exile.

      • Donald
        September 5, 2013, 4:25 pm

        I was referring to this NYT article–

        link

        from late June, which gives a SOHR breakdown of the death toll as (from memory) 25,000 Syrian army, 17,000 militia and informers, 36,000 civilians (including 8000 women and children, which is surprisingly low considering the total if the war is mostly massacres as people claim) and 13,500 rebel fighters, 2000 defectors and about 2500 foreign fighters (I’m not sure if they are counted as part of the 13,500 or separate).

        The numbers are strange, as I keep pointing out to people in various venues–if the rebels are so heavily outgunned, how is it that they are inflicting far more casualties on the Syrian army and militia than they suffer? One possibility is that many of those reported “army” and “militia” fighters are actually unarmed civilians murdered by the rebels. Who knows? Certainly not the press, but I keep reading this claim that Assad “killed 100,000″ with conventional weapons.

        Have you seen any breakdown of deaths according to sectarian affiliation? I haven’t but I haven’t looked that hard. If it was disproportionately Alawite that would be very interesting.

  3. quercus
    September 4, 2013, 2:37 pm

    I would like to know just when President Assad became the monster and Hitlerish person that Kerry claims he is. Was it before or after he and Mrs. Kerry had dinner with President Assad and his wife?

    Kerry has no credibility at all for me. None. Furthermore, I am very disgusted with the use of “boots on the ground” when discussing American armed forces. They are not boots on the ground, they are human beings. It is only one of any number of overused euphemisms, although I find this one particularly Orwellian. When I called my representative and both my senators, part of my message included registering my disgust at it use.

    The halls of Congress are full of mad dogs and fools, with a few bright exceptions.

    • Elliot
      September 4, 2013, 6:38 pm

      @quercus – They are not boots on the ground, they are human beings.
      Thank you for this reminder of who, on our side, is going to pay the “ultimate” price for this adventure. You’re right. As Obama’s death train picks up speed, we are going to be given lots of euphemisms as a distraction from that dirty work at hand.

      • Citizen
        September 5, 2013, 4:14 am

        @ Elliot
        During the Battle Of The Bulge, the same bunch of soldiers were used over and over again–they became known as “The rag men.” Ultimately, the US Army had to throw all the support soldiers, including cooks, bottle washers, clerks, etc up to the front lines, many of whom had never used their rifles except during basic training. Our current troops have served how many combat tours in Iraq or Afghanistan, or both? I wonder if any congress critter has thought much of how this strike on tinderbox Syria could expand very quickly–do they think Assad will go quietly into the night after a few months? “No boots on the ground.” No “combat” troops. Doesn’t that paper curb have anything to do with how Assad & supporters react? One House rep said he would not support any strike on Syria unless the military draft was revived. Is it so far-fetched to imagine we could be looking at that in a year if the strike on Syria goes haywire?

  4. Hostage
    September 4, 2013, 3:30 pm

    There is no stupider, more bankrupt reason to go to war than the fear that people will think you’re weak or call you a wimp.

    The claims that things will only get worse if the USA does nothing, are based upon on an unverifiable hypothesis, that’s incapable of being proven true, since the USA and its Arab allies have already been clandestinely backing and arming foreign insurgents fighting in Syria without permission from the UN Security Council – and things have only gotten worse for the Syrians since that happened.

    • RoHa
      September 4, 2013, 8:48 pm

      Too many commas, Hostage. The one after “nothing” is flat out wrong. (No comma after subject clause.) The one after “hypothesis” depends on whether or not it is followed by a non-defining relative clause. If that is a non-defining relative clause (and from the content it certainly looks like one) then the comma is correct. However, in that case you must use “which is” rather than “that’s”.

      I am sure you really wanted to know this.

      • Hostage
        September 5, 2013, 2:58 am

        Too many commas, Hostage.

        Yes. I dropped a clause and didn’t delete the punctuation around it. It’s blogging, so no one was critically injured as a result;-)

    • Obsidian
      September 5, 2013, 4:32 am

      @Hostage

      Old Russian proverb:

      ‘Do not act as a sheep, a wolf will eat you’.

  5. David Samel
    September 4, 2013, 3:50 pm

    Chris Hayes is great. I don’t always agree 100%, but the guy is razor sharp with way more than his share of integrity. How brilliant of him to sum up this folly with such a simple, unarguable statement.

    • Hostage
      September 4, 2013, 4:24 pm

      There aren’t any military planners that I know of who would be willing to attack or degrade the very forces or leaders in Syria who are responsible for keeping the national stockpile of CW weapons from falling into the hands of Al-Qaeda, without putting a lot of “boots on the ground”, just in case Assad’s custodians become ineffective or casualties as a result of our attack and can’t prevent that very thing from happening in the ensuing, post-attack confusion. The parameters of the Congressional resolution are self-contradictory in that respect. We would be better off leaving well enough alone, than making matters worse and trying to close the barn door after the horses have already bolted.

      • marc b.
        September 4, 2013, 4:39 pm

        a rosy analysis from Rand on the prospects for surgical destruction of chemical Syrian weapons:

        Prevent the Use of Syrian Chemical Weapons.

        In spite of often casual rhetoric about “taking out” Syria’s chemical weapon capability, the practical options for doing so have serious limitations, and attempting it could actually make things worse. Locating all Syrian chemical weapon facilities (e.g., storage sites, production facilities) and defining them well enough to design effective conventional air strikes against them would require very precise and detailed intelligence. And depending on the weapons employed in the strikes and the exact nature of the chemical weapons to be destroyed, collateral damage from the attacks could be substantial. Prospects for eliminating Syria’s extensive chemical weapon capabilities through air attack do not appear promising. At the very least, accomplishing this objective would require ground forces, and even then it may not be possible to neutralize the regime’s entire arsenal. Airpower could be used, however, for retaliatory threats or attacks to deter further chemical weapon use. Airpower could also be used to target the regime’s most-efficient ways of delivering chemical weapons, thereby decreasing the regime’s capacity to inflict mass casualties through their use. Above all, it is essential to note that each of these aerial intervention measures could lead to further, more extensive U.S. military involvement in Syria, particularly if it did not achieve its initial strategic objectives. Also, it could trigger serious escalatory responses from other parties such as Russia. therefore, anticipating and assessing potential next steps beyond an initial intervention effort should be central to any strategic planning for using airpower in Syria.

      • ritzl
        September 4, 2013, 4:54 pm

        Same here, Hostage. Nothing about this makes tactical or strategic or even planning sense, from a US perspective. You are almost guaranteed to lose tactically, as you say. It’s a completely unknowable result, strategically. And you can’t plan for anything after the initial attack (or you have to plan for the worst possible outcome) which makes all the promises so far about escalation witting lies.

        No upside to a Syria attack. That should make it a no-brainer.

      • HarryLaw
        September 5, 2013, 7:24 am

        ritzl..”No upside to a Syrian attack. That should make it a no-brainer.
        If it was only Syria in the cross hairs, in the event of regime change in Syria, Hezbollah would be vulnerable and Iran [the true target of all these lies] can be isolated and if not directly assaulted will suffer death by a thousand cuts. Iran is one of those countries General Wesley Clarke said was slated for regime change in 2007..link to salon.com

      • ritzl
        September 6, 2013, 4:59 pm

        Agree, HL. It is about larger things. I was just trying to second Hostage’s observation of the obvious nonsense, from a military and/or interested public perspective.

        The rationales for this attack are all so nebulous, random, different (by day and by advocate), and nonsensical, that it helps me to understand what it’s NOT about in order to make sense of what it IS about.

      • American
        September 4, 2013, 5:10 pm

        @ Hostage

        I think this is aimed at regime change.
        It aint about US morality thats for sure —so it’s either all about Obama and Kerry ego and spitting in Russia’s face—or it’s regime change deal for Saud and Isr on the way to Iran.

      • marc b.
        September 4, 2013, 6:46 pm

        the deputy national security advisor was just on mcneil Lehrer or whatever it’s called these days explaining that this ‘is a targeted strike’, ‘intended to prevent further use of chemical weapons’ ‘designed to make assad realize he might lose what’s important to him’ (if he doesn’t go). it is most definitely about regime change, as walnuts McCain can’t stop saying.

      • Citizen
        September 5, 2013, 4:22 am

        @ marc b.
        Yep. I just watched walnuts McCain saying it on C-SPAN. He and Lindsey Grahm are all about toppling Assad, then moving on to Iran. Obama’s got new buddies.

      • marc b.
        September 5, 2013, 10:55 am

        if I gave McCain any credit for intelligence, which I don’t, it almost seems as if his constant bleating about regime change was designed to undermine Obama’s position. I mean this guy just can’t shut the f*ck up. ‘regime change, regime change, regime change.’ it’s like some sort of political Tourette’s. even the dimmest viewer can’t help but notice the inherent contradiction between ‘surgical strike’ and ‘regime change’.

  6. Chu
    September 4, 2013, 4:03 pm

    You go Chris. Don’t let them take the cane out and yank you off-stage.
    This has overtones of Phil Donahue and his opposition to the Iraq War.
    And MSNBC gave Phil the foot in ass treatment even though he had the
    highest ratings at the time in 2003.

  7. DICKERSON3870
    September 4, 2013, 4:04 pm

    RE: “There is no stupider, more bankrupt reason to go to war than the fear that people will think you’re weak or call you a wimp.” ~ Chris Hayes

    SING IT SPRINGSTEIN: Who will be the last to die for the “credibility” of the U.S. (i.e., our int’l “cred”)*!
    Bruce Springsteen – Last To Die (Milan) [VIDEO, 04:27] – link to youtube.com

    * SEE: “We’re Going to War Because We Just Can’t Stop Ourselves”, By Stephen M. Walt, ForeignPolicy.com 8/27/13

    What is most striking about this affair is how Obama seems to have been dragged, reluctantly, into doing something that he clearly didn’t want to do. He probably knows bombing Syria won’t solve anything or move us closer to a political settlement. But he’s been facing a constant drumbeat of pressure from liberal interventionists and other hawks, as well as the disjointed Syrian opposition and some of our allies in the region. He foolishly drew a “red line” a few months back, so now he’s getting taunted with the old canard about the need to “restore U.S. credibility.” This last argument is especially silly: If being willing to use force was the litmus test of a president’s credibility, Obama is in no danger whatsoever. Or has everyone just forgotten about his decision to escalate in Afghanistan, the bombing of Libya, and all those drone strikes?
    More than anything else, Obama reminds me here of George Orwell in his famous essay “Shooting an Elephant.” Orwell recounts how, while serving as a colonial officer in Burma, he was forced to shoot a rogue elephant simply because the local residents expected an official of the British Empire to act this way, even when the animal appeared to pose no further danger. If he didn’t go ahead and dispatch the poor beast, he feared that his prestige and credibility might be diminished. Like Orwell, Obama seems to be sliding toward “doing something” because he feels he simply can’t afford not to.
    Sad, but also revealing.

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to walt.foreignpolicy.com

    P.S. TAKE ACTION! ! ! TAKE ACTION! ! ! TAKE ACTION! ! !

    ● FROM RootsAction.org: Prevent an Attack on Syria Now

    If you live in the U.S. and want to email Obama, your senators and representative, expressing opposition to an attack on Syria, please click HERE.

    If you reside outside the United States, you can still sign this petition by clicking HERE.

  8. talknic
    September 4, 2013, 5:04 pm

    Risch: “Everybody knows that this is not the first time that Assad has used gas against his own people”

    Ye olde ‘everybody knows’ …. cute stuff

    and this gem “The other thing that’s overlooked here is that he’s already killed 100,000 people with conventional weapons”

    Seems armed militant factions haven’t killed anyone to date. AMAZING!

    • LanceThruster
      September 4, 2013, 5:22 pm

      Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
      Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
      Everybody knows the war is over
      Everybody knows the good guys lost
      Everybody knows the fight was fixed
      The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
      That’s how it goes, everybody knows

      Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
      Everybody knows that the captain lied
      Everybody got this broken feeling
      Like their father or their dog just died
      Everybody talking to their pockets
      Everybody wants a box of chocolates
      And a long stem rose, everybody knows

      Everybody knows that you love me, baby
      Everybody knows that you really do
      Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful
      Ah, give or take a night or two
      Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
      But there were so many people you just had to meet
      Without your clothes and everybody knows

      Everybody knows, everybody knows
      That’s how it goes, everybody knows
      Everybody knows, everybody knows
      That’s how it goes, everybody knows

      And everybody knows that it’s now or never
      Everybody knows that it’s me or you
      And everybody knows that you live forever
      Ah, when you’ve done a line or two
      Everybody knows the deal is rotten
      Old Black Joe’s still pickin’ cotton
      For your ribbons and bows and everybody knows

      And everybody knows that the plague is coming
      Everybody knows that it’s moving fast
      Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
      Are just a shining artifact of the past
      Everybody knows the scene is dead
      But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed
      That will disclose what everybody knows

      And everybody knows that you’re in trouble
      Everybody knows what you’ve been through
      From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
      To the beach of Malibu
      Everybody knows it’s coming apart
      Take one last look at this sacred heart
      Before it blows and everybody knows

      And everybody knows, everybody knows
      That’s how it goes, everybody knows
      Everybody knows, everybody knows
      That’s how it goes, oh, everybody knows

      Everybody knows, everybody knows
      That’s how it goes, everybody knows
      Everybody knows

      Songwriters
      COHEN, LEONARD / ROBINSON, SHARON

  9. Qualtrough
    September 4, 2013, 11:19 pm

    If the goal is the stop Assad from using chemical weapons (assuming that was true) how is any limited action going to effect that? That’s a rhetorical question, because anyone with an IQ above that of a plant knows that cruise missiles will not be able to stop the use of chemical weapons and might lead to further disaster if a depot is breached and gas gets out. It also gives Assad the motive to disperse all the chemical weapons, where they could then fall into the hands of Al-Qaeda, rebel factions, or God knows who. If Assad is really the ruthless madman they depict, then any attack would increase the possibility he would further use those weapons. One thing is crystal clear, this proposed action will not protect the Syrian people. It is all BS, because the real plan is to degrade the Syrian military and remove any threat to US and Israeli plans for the region. Next stop: Iran. I am hoping the American people say enough and back that up with action, but I am not optimistic. If any incident involving Americans getting hurt or killed can be tied to Syria, support for any US military action will zoom to 90%. I am sure there are parties hoping or even planning for just that.

    • Citizen
      September 5, 2013, 4:38 am

      TPC channel is airing House commitee on foreign affairs. A big brass just said we have arrangements with some (unspecified) people over there to take control of the chemical storage plants, but we only have so many such arrangements, and we don’t know how many storage plants Assad has, and, further, Assad moves the stuff around a lot. Sounds really shaky. Also any help on the ground is said to be “vetted” but nobody says how that’s being done–do the good guys now wear little American flag pins? Kerry himself quickly hushed any concern about what the big brass said by saying, to paraphrase, We got it all under control, and yes, the strike will help some bad guys who are fighting Assad, but that’s just a collateral thing, and not the main intent of the planned strike or reason for it.

      • Citizen
        September 5, 2013, 5:25 am

        This article reveals we’ve had US military in Jordan for a couple of years, preparing to contain Syria’s chemical weapons–it points out we have quite a few assets there, which Syria will see as targets. Syria has also stated to Jordan it was no longer being as neutral as it says, was a conduit for channeling fighters against Syria, and was playing with fire–and all the locals know what happens in Syria, happens in Jordan: link to counterpunch.org

    • Walid
      September 5, 2013, 7:34 am

      “If the goal is the stop Assad from using chemical weapons (assuming that was true) how is any limited action going to effect that? ”

      It’s more about weakening Assad’s forces than about chemicals. Kerry and Obama are saying something about wanting to even the chances for the rebels to fight the regime. It could be that there are perhaps thousands of US-trained rebels waiting in Jordan and Turkey to move in after the bombing will have cleared the way for them. Israel’s failed attempt to infiltrate Lebanon a couple of weeks back could have been part of the planned scenario.

  10. Sumud
    September 5, 2013, 2:26 am

    The Hayes clip that Phil links to in the first line has Senator James Risch (R-ID) claiming at about 08:10 [my emphasis]:

    i think if they use chemicals against any American, against any American interest …let me be clear they are a neighbour to Israel we have treaties with Israel that require the defence – I would be all in.

    Can anyone name any treaty that the US has with Israel? I know of none. Don’t allies have treaty agreements?

    Shouldn’t a senator know this!?!?

  11. Tuyzentfloot
    September 5, 2013, 3:43 am

    Does anyone know where to find the actual report the Russians gave the UN about the Khan al-Assal attack in march? Russia now released details about it (link to rt.com) but the report was delivered in july.

    • Hostage
      September 5, 2013, 2:09 pm

      Does anyone know where to find the actual report the Russians gave the UN about the Khan al-Assal attack in march? Russia now released details about it (link to rt.com) but the report was delivered in july.

      No, some of the P-5 have exacerbated the problem of keeping track of such things by recognizing the rebel groups as a legitimate government. They can’t participate in debates in the Security Council, so the information is exchanged in meetings held off the record outside of the Security Council Chambers, e.g. See
      * THU 25 JUL 2013 3:12 PM, “Arria Formula” Meeting with the Syrian National Coalition link to whatsinblue.org
      * The Arria Formula link to globalpolicy.org

      There has been no official report yet, since the latest attack occurred before the team investigating the earlier attacks had arrived in-country. Here is the Letter dated 22 March 2013 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council which explained that Syria had requested the investigation on the alleged use of chemical weapons in the first place.

      link to securitycouncilreport.org

      • Tuyzentfloot
        September 6, 2013, 4:16 am

        Thanks Hostage, thoroughly documented as usual :) I thought maybe the report was confidential. Interesting to see that the Assad regime was the first to file a request march 20.

        In any case the impression I got was that the russians did a good job but nothing came of it, so they now push the report publicly. They’re also claiming their input is not taken seriously. Well , ironically all this was reported concisely in my newspaper as “the russians insinuate that rebels used chemical weapons and they also say that their input is being ignored”.

      • Hostage
        September 6, 2013, 5:05 am

        Interesting to see that the Assad regime was the first to file a request march 20. . . . They’re also claiming their input is not taken seriously.

        The Russian Foreign Ministry also noted that it was the western members of the Security Council who blocked the attempt to conduct an investigation back in March. That’s why they conducted their own investigation and published their own report. See the Russian MFA press briefing: link to mid.ru

  12. Citizen
    September 5, 2013, 5:02 am

    Kerry says we are “the indispensable nation.” If we don’t stand up against this use of chemical weapons we are not serving our national interest (as such). He points to the crosses at Normandy, “Why did they die?” We’ve fought more wars and then, as victor, gave the enemies’ land back to them. The moderates in the Arab world depend us–that’s partly what the Arab Spring was about.

  13. Citizen
    September 5, 2013, 5:07 am

    Kerry says “we are not going to war, we are asking permission to take a limited military action, yes, but no boots on the ground. If we don’t do it, that part of the world will be more dangerous–do not send a message to a man like Assad that he can act with impunity.” He specifies Israel would be less safe.

  14. NickJOCW
    September 5, 2013, 5:47 am

    Without a change in US ME policy, particularly with regard to Israel, the powers that be in the US are probably quite right to distrust independent nations like Syria and Iran, but faced with a weakening dam there is little point in punishing the water. It is said Xerxes had the Hellespont whipped when his invasion bridges were swept away but that was 480 BC.

  15. just
    September 5, 2013, 6:14 am

    It’s surreal, but I believe that our greatest weakness is our lack of honest diplomacy and our damnable hypocrisy. We’re not even good at winning wars– we keep “losing” them and have caused unimaginable suffering, death, displacement, and destruction wherever we’ve “gone”. It’s a failure of leadership and a fear of peace, I am so sorry to say. And, it’s a failure of the American public to take their citizenship seriously. Most of the people I see on a day to day basis are absolutely CLUELESS! Their lack of curiosity and responsibility and knowledge about the world outside of their tiny bubble is shocking. The other day a “smart” person said that the “leader somewhere over there nuked a school” and “we need to go over there and bomb them”. I asked where and who used “nukes”– she muttered and stammered and said “I don’t really know” and left (scampered away). I was not surprised. No knowledge of geography, world history, the MIC, our government. What little they do know is dangerous– they swallow whatever swill their MSM of choice provides. Sound bites do not a foreign policy make.

    • NickJOCW
      September 5, 2013, 7:38 am

      While what you say is doubtless true, is it really fair to blame people for not knowing things that are not of any real interest to them. People want food and security, jobs and a coherent social environment; forming theories about events thousands of miles away requires leisure which is only achievable when more immediate needs are secured. Collectively some 70% of US citizens are said to oppose intervention in Syria.

      That doesn’t mean 30% favor intervention. It is a fallacy to assume that just because you don’t oppose something you must be in favour of it. There is a vast area of indifference between those extremes.

      Most of the 70% may well be less concerned about Syria than the whole business of getting involved in military adventures so far from home. Just looking at film of the vast naval build up in the Mediterranean is enough to make one wonder what the whole thing is already costing and that’s enough to make one question it.

      The picture in the US is repeated elsewhere, 69% in France, 80% in Germany, 76% in the UK. These percentages can’t be read as enthusiasm for Assad. Nor are they necessarily deeply considered, they are largely gut feelings. Enough already!

  16. yonah fredman
    September 6, 2013, 5:37 am

    If the US goes to war, it will not be because of the fear people will think it is weak and this simplification does no credit to the case against the proposed attack.

    The case against the attack is: 1. what is the overall strategy and how will this attack help further that strategy. Obama and Kerry seem to be proposing arming the (moderate) rebels sufficiently to the point of strength that Assad and his alliance: Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, will be forced to negotiate and cede partial power, probably through a partition. Such a halfway type of strategy is a bit wishy washy and thus the inherent weakness, aside from the fact that I had to put parentheses around moderate, which indicates the other weakness of the strategy. The small scale missile attack against Syria that is being “proposed”, doesn’t seem like a full fledged commitment either or even half fledged. It seems piecemeal, tactical, not full steam ahead, let’s get this thing done.

    The second weakness of the proposal to attack is the fact that America is tired of its wars against faraway Muslim countries and thus opposes the war.

    We should realize that there is an element of “let them kill each other, what is it our business?” attitude that is involved. This smacks of callousness. (I am not saying that callousness is the primary motive involved. Other motives: sensible priorities, aversion to risk, aversion to spilling blood, aversion to strategy-less endless warmaking are also involved. But even if one admits that “we cannot be the policeman of the world” has a common sense ring to it, let us admit that there is the callousness of “let them kill each other”. And if one cares too much to the point of dropping bombs on people, obviously this is making war to stop warring and there is the “logical” fallacy to any warmaking that attempts to justify itself by the warmaking of others, especially when the US outspends the rest of the world on weapons and armies and such.)

    • Donald
      September 6, 2013, 6:29 pm

      “let them kill each other, what is it our business?”

      One might get some of that in man on the street interviews. I think one also senses that with Israel–better the two sides bleed each other. Some Americans also said that about the Iran/Iraq war and I would strongly suspect it was the same in Israel.

      The whole humanitarian angle is a bit of a fraud anyway–not that there aren’t plenty of people who sincerely think the US should jump in and save innocents, but it’s not an accident that we hear much more about this when a reviled enemy does something terrible then when it is something we or our allies do. There’s been some news lately about how the US supported Iraq’s use of poison gas against Iran. There was also a Guardian article just a few days ago about the difficulty Iranian survivors have in obtaining medicine, because the sanctions on Iran prevent medical suppliers from being paid. It says a lot about our political and media classes that they get emotional about our duty to stop Assad, and almost nothing is said about our duty to help the innocent victims of our past ally Saddam who are being hurt by our current sanctions policy.

      Guardian article on Iranian gas victims

      If humanitarianism were the driving force behind these military actions, then the humanitarians would also be raising a clamor about situations which wouldn’t require us to kill people, only to admit our own crimes and try to make restitution.

      • eljay
        September 6, 2013, 6:44 pm

        >> There’s been some news lately about how the US supported Iraq’s use of poison gas against Iran.

        Funny you should write that. I just caught a clip on the news that took my breath away. Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, actually said the following without cracking a smile:

        “(If) we’re gonna sit back and allow a regime to try and win a military conflict with the use of chemical weapons, we are in … brand new territory that is extremely dangerous and that there will be no turning back from,” Harper said. “Even the most ferocious, despicable and brutal powers for the past 100 years have all stayed away from this kind of warfare.”

        What a f*cking assh*le. >:-(

      • Donald
        September 7, 2013, 2:31 pm

        “What a f*cking assh*le. >:-(”

        I think that to rise very high in politics you need a certain amount of sociopathy in one’s makeup. This people just have to turn the hypocrisy and the lies on and off like a switch. If they couldn’t, they wouldn’t be able to say the things they do without looking uncomfortable or blurting out the truth from time to time, which would be political suicide.

      • eljay
        September 7, 2013, 4:38 pm

        >> I think that to rise very high in politics you need a certain amount of sociopathy in one’s makeup. This people just have to turn the hypocrisy and the lies on and off like a switch.

        I get that politicians play with the truth and twist facts – such as suggesting that the allegations against the Syrian government have been proven true.

        But the sheer magnitude of this deliberate lie – a lie that thoroughly vilifies Syria while white-washing the crimes of (at the very least) the U.S. and Israel – is utterly astounding.

    • Donald
      September 6, 2013, 6:39 pm

      And here is the NYT on the Israeli view that it’s best if the Syrian war just drag on–

      link

      • just
        September 6, 2013, 9:54 pm

        ““This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,” said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York. “Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.” ”

        WTH? Blatant “humanitarian” psychopathy. “Playoff”? “Both teams”? “A tie”?

        How many innocents will die?

        So, they only care about ‘their’ survival, so this entire bleating for the rule of law, humanitarianism, and concern for the innocents is a lie.

    • American
      September 6, 2013, 7:15 pm

      yonah fredman says:
      September 6, 2013 at 5:37 am

      If the US goes to war, it will not be because of the fear people will think it is weak and this simplification does no credit to the case against the proposed attack.

      The case against the attack is: 1. what is the overall strategy and how will this attack help further that strategy. ”

      That is the politicians question.
      The public says No period …..maybe cause in addition to war weariness—floating around in their subconscious is the belief that the US hasnt, doesnt, wont make anything better for Syria than they have for Iraq or anyone else, that thats not the US’s real goal.

      Do you think that the US wasnt aware of the rebel revolt Saudi was starting in Syria, wasn’t aware it was going to be long and bloody and kill a lot of people?
      Do you think people think some effort should have been made to stop it then, that people ask why 2 years later XXXXXXX dead?
      The public wants to think America is ‘humane’ but down deep in their gut they know our government isnt—it has no humane motives.

  17. lysias
    September 6, 2013, 5:22 pm

    There is no stupider, more bankrupt reason to go to war than the fear that people will think you’re weak or call you a wimp.

    That’s basically what happened in 1914.

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